‘History Bites’ Lunchtime Lecture Series
Friday, March 8 at 12:15 p.m.
Simeon Strong House, 67 Amity Street, Amherst, MA
Jonathan Edwards has long epitomized the Puritan preacher as a fiery scold fixated on the inner struggle of the soul, a Calvinist scourge who majored in hellfire and brimstone, the fearful preacher of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Ronald Story will draw on his recent book, Jonathan Edwards and the Gospel of Love, to reveal a more complex figure. Story will show Edwards to be a profoundly social minister who preached a gospel of charity and community bound by love and struggled, like Walter Rauschenbusch, Karl Barth, Martin Luther King, Jr., and other great “improvers,” to create a more just and peaceful world.
Story’s main thesis: “Love pervades Jonathan Edwards’s ministry and writings, a point often overlooked given his lingering reputation as a preacher of damnation. In fact, Edwards, though understanding, as we have seen, that fear had its utility in the pulpit, was overwhelmingly a minister of the gospel of love rather than of fear. Though a Calvinist, Edwards was not chiefly a preacher of damnation. Though damnation was ever at hand, Edwards the Calvinist was chiefly a preacher within the tradition of Christian love. Considering Edwards in this context will locate him at the epicenter of his faith and increase our understanding of what he was about.”
Ronald Story, professor emeritus, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of History, is the author of The Forging of an Aristocracy: Harvard and the Boston Upper Class, 1800-1870 (1980) and co-author of Generations of Americans: A History of the United States (1976). He has also edited or co-edited A More Perfect Union: Documents in American History(1984-1995), Sports in Massachusetts: Historical Essays(1991), and Five Colleges: Five Histories (1993). He has provided content for a CD-ROM, The American Civil War(1996) and produced a website, The Jackie Robinson Educational Archives (1998). He is a past president of the Amherst Historical Society.
Join us with your lunch in hand. We will provide coffee, tea or cider for you as you listen to the presentations. The 30-minute program will begin promptly at 12:15 with seating and beverages ready just before noon. The lectures are free and everyone is welcome to attend. For updated information, check our website at www.amhersthistory.org.